Have you heard these terms before? Maybe you’ve already identified yourself as a pantser or a plotter. If you don’t know what plotting or pantsing is, or if you haven’t heard of plot structure at all, that’s okay. Read on and you’ll catch up.
What is a Plotter?
Simply put, a plotter is someone who plans out their novel before they write it.
What is a Pantser?
A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything in their story, or plan very little.
Ok got it? But what is a PLANTSER?
Some people, like me, call themselves “plantsers,” which means they’re in a little of both. In reality, most people are plantsers, but some tend to lean heavily to one side.
However, there are pros and cons to each one. Let’s take a look.
PLOTTER Pros and Cons
Pros: Plotters, having planned out their novel ahead of time, know what’s going to happen before they write it. This makes it easier to bust writer’s block. It’s harder to get stuck when you know what’s going to happen next. Plotters also tend to get their novels written faster, or at least more smoothly.
Cons: Plotters are confined to their plans, meaning if they do get stuck or want to change something, they often have to redo their whole outline. And I can tell you from experience, redoing an entire outline is not fun.
If you’re a plotter, then you’re in luck. We have several great resources for you. Learn more about plotting your best story here:
- A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure
- What Is Plot? The 5 Elements of Plot and How to Use Them
- Crisis: Story Grid’s Central Plot Point
- Freytag’s Pyramid: Definition, Examples, and How to Use This Dramatic Structure In Your Writing
PANTSER Pros and Cons
Pros: Pantsers have the freedom to take their novel in any direction they want. They have flexibility. They’re not stuck following an outline, so if they don’t like a character, they can simply kill him. If they don’t like the way their plot is going, they can change it.
Cons: However, having no plan, or very little plan, makes it easier to get stuck. And if they get stuck, they have to come up with a way to dig themselves out of writer’s block, rather than following an outline that leads them in the right direction. When this happens, Pantsers often abandon old projects for new ones, leaving multiple unfinished novels in their wake.
What about you? Do you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser? Or are you a little of both?
Need more plot help that’s friendly to plotters AND pantsers? After you work on practicing your plotting and pantsing in the exercise section below, check out my new book The Write Structure which helps writers make their plot better and write books readers love. Low price for a limited time!
Whatever type of writer you think you are—Plotter or Pantser—become the opposite for a little while. If you’re a Pantser, plot out your next scene or chapter for your novel. If you’re a Plotter, abandon your outline and write freely. Write for fifteen minutes and, if you’d like, post your practice in the comments. Have fun!